I’m a huge believer in continual development in any career. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been doing it for 10 weeks or 10 years, I really do believe you can always develop in one way or another.
I’ve been writing on a freelance basis for many years now and although I believe I’ve got a good understanding of – and experience in – various different aspects of the industry, I’m always looking for ways to develop.
Although I often find certain aspects where I can improve slightly, in recent weeks I’ve come across a few different points that have changed the way I approach freelance writing completely – and the following are three of the most notable.
1. You can proof too much
When I first started freelance writing, I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t spend too much time on proofing. I just didn’t see it as that much of a priority – I mean, how many mistakes could I make in one 400 or 500 word piece?
I soon realised that the answer was completely different to what I first thought and began to spend much more time on the proofing process, often proofing a piece three or four times fully after an initial quick check.
Whilst I still believe proofing is an important part of the freelance writing process, I’ve come to realise that you can actually proof too much.
When you start getting to the third, fourth or fifth proof, you begin to change things unnecessarily. The changes are all valid, but the truth is they aren’t necessarily needed – and when you’re making changes like these, you’re simply wasting time.
2. The benefits of developing professional relationships are long lasting
Clients come and go. That’s one thing you can almost guarantee as a freelance writer and it’s something I’ve come to realise over the years.
Recently, however, I lost a few clients at once. When you lose one client, you can generally cope with the loss of earnings, but a few clients at once can make things a little tricky.
Always a huge fan of networking and building positive relationships, I recently found out the value of these, as I contacted a few old clients and contacts after my current client numbers decreased.
I didn’t go pleading for work or asking for handouts, but instead I made it known that I was available for work and still had a competitive ratecard. Understandably, some clients and contacts weren’t interested (although it was good to just re-engage), but a handful were and I was able to secure new work that covered the loss of earnings from the clients I lost, as well as a little extra.
Don’t underestimate the power of networking and the importance of maintaining relationships. I know it can be a pain and take time away from the actual writing of content, but it really will be beneficial to your future career.
3. Sometimes, you’re never going to satisfy clients fully
When I realised just how important it was to proof my work, I got into the habit of expecting perfection. I wanted every client to come back to me and say ‘Hey, this is perfect – thanks!’. Anything less, even if it was just a minor edit, would annoy me.
Although I still believe it’s fantastic to aim for perfection, I’ve come to realise that it’s just not going to happen with some clients. No matter how many times you proof and edit a piece, some clients are just going to have different views on how a certain sentence should read or how a specific paragraph is phrased. The changes don’t make the piece read any different overall, but from the client’s point of view, they’re going to improve the copy.
This is actually something I’ve found difficult to adjust to, as for years I questioned my work a lot when a client came back with edits. After looking at the changes made and talking to a few colleagues, however, it’s become something that I’ve realised is a normal part of freelance writing. I’m never going to please everyone, so I shouldn’t expect that every single piece of work I provide is going to be perfectly suited to the client’s expectations, no matter how much time I spend on it.
A lot of the changes and developments I make as a freelance writer come from the strangest of sources or at completely random times, but they’re are all beneficial, even if I’m not entirely sure at the start!
Have you had any career-changing lessons recently?